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2016 NARP Meeting News?

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Well keep in mind that a few AU members are heavily involved in NARP. Charlie is one of them. I know for a fact he was splitting time between the two this weekend.

 

He will gladly update us when he gets some free time. :)

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Phew! I am off the hook. Charlie, over to you. Besides you'll be home before I even start on my way home from Denver.

 

We were told that the Viewliner Diners start rolling out of CAF mid-November when I asked whether the delivery of the Viewliners was part of the performance metrics for the first year for Mr. Moorman. :)

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jis--

 

Does that mean rollout, then testing on different trains like the prototype [sorry, can't remember its number] diner, then a few more months before we, as passengers, get to eat in them?

 

Or rollout as some will be completely ready for passengers and added to trains in mid-November? Thanks for clarifying :).

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Did not attend the NARP meeting, but Charlie was talking about the up and coming Drop car from the Southwest Chief to Pueblo CO experiment while at the AU dinner.

 

Still scratching my head on this one. If you look at a map, you would think La Junta to Pueblo is a bus route, if your running a car off the SWC let's run it from La Junta to Pueblo to Colorado Springs and end in Denver proper.

 

But then it's going to be short term experiment, and Puebla got the backing from Colorado to do it. Just seem a little short of a good idea.

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jis--

 

Does that mean rollout, then testing on different trains like the prototype [sorry, can't remember its number] diner, then a few more months before we, as passengers, get to eat in them?

 

Or rollout as some will be completely ready for passengers and added to trains in mid-November? Thanks for clarifying :).

The latter. Actual delivery for acceptance testing is rumored to be around the 1st of November.

 

Though I would refrain from counting the chicken until they actually hatch :)

Edited by jis

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Did not attend the NARP meeting, but Charlie was talking about the up and coming Drop car from the Southwest Chief to Pueblo CO experiment while at the AU dinner.

 

Still scratching my head on this one. If you look at a map, you would think La Junta to Pueblo is a bus route, if your running a car off the SWC let's run it from La Junta to Pueblo to Colorado Springs and end in Denver proper.

 

But then it's going to be short term experiment, and Puebla got the backing from Colorado to do it. Just seem a little short of a good idea.

It was clearly stated that this was a first step towards eventually rerouting the entire SWC via Pueblo. There at present are no plans for running anything on the joint line between Pueblo and Denver. C-DOT has a long EIS plan in its work plan and anything involving the joint line will follow that activity and inevitably will be expensive.

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Guess I really am off the hook. jis and Just-Thinking-51 have shared most of the news. :)

 

The speculation front was a lively as ever, but I think it's fair to say that most of us were feeling more positive and hopeful about the future of passenger rail than we have been for a while.

 

But the upcoming elections for officials at all levels will make an enormous difference. The meeting underscored how important it is to elect people who care about, and are willing to support, passenger rail. The improvements to the SWC described above would not have happened without the grassroots work of the Southwest Chief Coalition and people like the city manager of Garden City, Kansas.

 

So ask your local candidates to support passenger rail and local transit connections. And when they get elected, make yourself available as an expert on these issues. They'll appreciate folks like us who can give honest appraisals of the complicated rail business.

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The main thing I want from Amtrak is a daily SL with better calling times in SAS. Is that a reasonable goal achievable with practical solutions within the current realities of Amtrak? I honestly have no idea.

I was surprised to find the lack of enthusiasm to start a daily Sunset project among the Texas contingent. If they are not going to take the lead, hardly anyone else will. The ones I talked to appeared to be more enthusiastic about a daily NOL to at least SAS and perhaps even EL Paso service than the rest of the way to LA. But fortunately it appears that the NARP staff and Board might try to light a fire under a few and see what happens.

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The main thing I want from Amtrak is a daily SL with better calling times in SAS. Is that a reasonable goal achievable with practical solutions within the current realities of Amtrak? I honestly have no idea.

I was surprised to find the lack of enthusiasm to start a daily Sunset project among the Texas contingent. If they are not going to take the lead, hardly anyone else will. The ones I talked to appeared to be more enthusiastic about a daily NOL to at least SAS and perhaps even EL Paso service than the rest of the way to LA. But fortunately it appears that the NARP staff and Board might try to light a fire under a few and see what happens.

 

 

Is it really that surprising? Any time an inquiry about increasing/expanding the Sunset Limited's frequency/route shows up on AU it's generally met with resistance, antipathy, or even contempt. Why would reasonable people spend their time actively supporting something which they believe has little or no basis in reality? If you look at passenger numbers for SAS they have been plummeting ever since the schedule was changed. So wherever that support is eventually going to come from I doubt it's coming from here. Rather than lighting a fire under us maybe NARP should focus on selling us on the idea that these negatives can be addressed in a practical manner without having to move the Sun and Earth first.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Rail advocacy in Texas seems to be in a rebuilding mode at the moment. Texas Rail Advocates does pretty well, but one of the NARP reps is working on reviving TXARP to serve the whole state. Which is a challenge, given its size and diversity of interests. But we will probably be hearing more soon. DA, if you or anyone else is interested in helping, I'll be happy to connect you.

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The main thing I want from Amtrak is a daily SL with better calling times in SAS. Is that a reasonable goal achievable with practical solutions within the current realities of Amtrak? I honestly have no idea.

I was surprised to find the lack of enthusiasm to start a daily Sunset project among the Texas contingent. If they are not going to take the lead, hardly anyone else will. The ones I talked to appeared to be more enthusiastic about a daily NOL to at least SAS and perhaps even EL Paso service than the rest of the way to LA. But fortunately it appears that the NARP staff and Board might try to light a fire under a few and see what happens.

 

 

Ideally you'd start by making part of the SL daily aka Hoosier State/Lynchburger rather than the whole route. Any daily service along the route is better than nothing. But that becomes a state responsibility instead of Amtrak/Congress (not that they're any better when it comes to spending money).

 

When it comes to adding trains/services, the answer is ...

 

If less than 750 miles ... Ask your state.

If more than 750 miles ... Probably either ask your state or flat out no.

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Another significant news is that the National Train Day is going to be reinstated under the auspices of NARP. NARP and Amtrak have come to an understanding whereby Amtrak will let NARP use the Amtrak assets that were developed in support of the National Train Day, NARP will engage with Amtrak, other passenger operating agencies and various state and local organizations to coordinate arrangements for the National Train Day. Hopefully this will work out better for all.

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Rail advocacy in Texas seems to be in a rebuilding mode at the moment. Texas Rail Advocates does pretty well, but one of the NARP reps is working on reviving TXARP to serve the whole state. Which is a challenge, given its size and diversity of interests. But we will probably be hearing more soon. DA, if you or anyone else is interested in helping, I'll be happy to connect you.

 

What would sell me on increased involvement would be a qualified sanity check on the goals I've mentioned above. If my goals are deemed reasonable and attainable then I am willing to put in that effort regardless of our eventual success or failure. However, if my goals are impractical or unrealistic then I have little interest in fighting an impossible battle. Even though we joke about politicians being idiots they are experts at identifying the weakest link in your argument and using it to unravel the rest of your position. If you don't know what you're talking about and if you don't fully believe in your own methodology then they will be able to pick up on that. Once they know the political score they can quickly deflect your criticisms and dissolve your arguments with ease. Being an advocate is hard thankless work so it's important to know what you're getting into before you get on board. Just my personal opinion of course, but this wouldn't be my first rodeo, so to speak.

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AAF is going to get delivery of the first train set late October or early November. Amtrak will deliver the set to AAF from Sacramento. This was mentioned by Rusty Roberts of AAF at the NARP Meeting.

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Texas Central was represented at the NARP meeting by Travis Kelly, who ordinarily is tasked with speaking at public hearings in Texas to distribute information regarding the project. TC has boldly announced that it plans to begin constructing its 100% grade-separated right-of-way in 2018 with 8-car Shinkansen trainsets making (ballpark figure) 34 trips a day between Dallas and Houston in the projected 2022 service debut. We could see a great deal of additional support for a daily Sunset in the event that the TC's plans go off without a hitch. A daily Sunset could act as a funnel for additional business on the TC if they wise up and actively seek to share a facility (at least something to the effect of a European style cross-the-street transfer) with Amtrak. It's just my 2 cents but currently there isn't any political pressure to seek daily trains from New Orleans to LA in Texas simply because it's a state that isn't accustomed to train travel in the manner that the Northeast or Chicagoland are. Perhaps if the Texas Central becomes a reality, then those advocating for more conventional passenger rail service in Texas could be dealing with a much more receptive audience some years down the road.

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TC plans to have stop near College Station, 20 miles away as I recall, where possibly alternate or fewer trains will stop.

 

Also, in side conversation with the AAF folks I learned that they are getting close to finalizing a site selection in Brevard County from among the three choices submitted by the county for a possible future station. Nothing is determined yet but I got the impression that the Rockledge site may have the inside track.

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The main thing I want from Amtrak is a daily SL with better calling times in SAS. Is that a reasonable goal achievable with practical solutions within the current realities of Amtrak? I honestly have no idea.

I'd like some service in the Rio Grande Valley. TxDot has a plan, but the local MPO is clueless about it.

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Perhaps a visual aid would help spark further dialog?

 

attachicon.gifSAS-ONG-EXL.png

 

If there is a genuine desire to build up more advocacy in TX then SAS would seem to represent a substantially deteriorating location worthy of being targeted.

Parking at the station would help, don't you think? It's pretty amazing to me that there isn't any, although someone on here stated they're planning to move the station and have parking at it. Any updates on that?

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Was there any news about Amtrak's proposed customer amenity improvements to the SL route?

Could you please elaborate for those of us that haven't the slightest idea about what you mean by this?

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A quote from Gene Poon on Trainorders gives the details:

 

This comes from NARP Houston:

NARP Friends -

Amtrak has just released SUNSET LIMITED plans to

1. Add Just-For-You boxed meal service at your seat priced between dining car
and snack car.

2. Discussion of possible move to THE Sunset Station in San Antonio.

3. Discussion of possible stop in Flatonia (I would suggest we begin planning
a trip there or invite them to join us for a meeting, with hope to continue
dialog. Their earlier request for a stop was met with impossible $ quotation from U.P.)

4. Breakfast-bags-to-go given to Los Angeles departing sleeper passengers.

5. Los Angeles early boarding for all at 8:00pm on Train 2 including café car
access, plus dining car dinner for sleeping car passengers.

6. Adding stop in Benson Arizona next year.

 

Someone pointed out that the San Antonio station relocation is not the Sunset station but rather the former MoPac station further west, and that was pointed out here earlier. I think the MoPac station is located just west of W. Commerce St. Devil's Advocate?

 

Another piece of misinformation: Benzon, AZ is already a stop on the route.

Edited by Palmetto

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